Farming

The last five years have seen a continuation of agri-environment funding (AECS) and specialist advice to support the farming sector in taking management action to improve the condition of water bodies and riparian zones on farmland. This has helped tackle some sites where diffuse pollution from livestock accessing water courses remains an issue.

SAC Consulting, with SEPA, has promoted diffuse pollution control measures at outreach events across catchment as part of the Farming and Water Scotland Initiative.

Site inspection and enforcement by SGRPID and SEPA at sites of concern is on-going, resulting in further water margins schemes. Opportunities have been taken to make positive change, including SCI projects to deliver riparian buffer strip/stock exclusion/tree planting projects; 4km at Kinchurdy Farm, 2018 - 2019, 3.2km on River Truim 2019 - 2021.

Farms are also playing their part in flood water management and improving river functioning.

SCI’s Delliefure Burn project in 2021 created farm floodplain water storage, and Insh Marshes restoration projects currently in development by RSPB involve improved hydrological management of farmland. Exemplar green engineering projects (log jams and willow spiling) were delivered on two farms through TGLP in 2019, partially funded via SRDP. Standing water, particularly on farmland, remains relatively scarce in the catchment, however there is steady progress to restore lost wetland and pond habitats which are particularly important for rare invertebrates, and funding schemes for pond creation have been promoted to farmers. Several new dragonfly and Northern Damselfly ponds have been constructed and new ponds created through SUDS schemes.

Examples of key successes from 2017 - 2021:

12km of riverside improvements in the Avon and Livet catchments

Under TGLP in the Avon and Livet catchments, 24 offline waterings were installed, water margins were stock fenced on 7 farms totalling approx 12km, and over 1000 trees were planted, all through AECS. Willlow spiling was planted to stabilise bank erosion.

Fencing and planting on the banks of the River Truim

Between 2019 and 2021, a total of 3.2km of river was stock fenced on both banks of the River Truim to exclude sheep and cattle, and planted with low density native shrub species. Vegetation is also expected to regenerate naturally over time.

Work has begun to improve area of Insh Mashes

Insh marshes reserve includes large areas of grazing land, much of it historically separated from the Spey by embankments. Options are being assessed for re-naturalising hydrological functioning whilst retaining agricultural use, which is often beneficial for habitat quality.

Woodland is being integrated into working farms.

An SCI project is trialling the establishment of riparian trees under challenging conditions at Croftnahaven Farm on the Spey.

 

Green engineering used to stabilise river banks near Tomintoul 

This green engineering solution for excessive erosion of fields near Tomintoul used around 200 trees with root plates attached to stabilise the bank, a cost-effective nature-based solution which also benefits riparian and in channel habitats.